GÜRTEL INQUIRY

Court reopens corruption case against ex-PP treasurer

Luis Bárcenas may still be tried on tax evasion and money-laundering charges

The High Court has reopened the criminal case against former Popular Party treasurer Luis Bárcenas and two fellow PP members whose tax evasion and money-laundering charges were dropped by a lower court last September.

Bárcenas, PP Senator Jesús Merino and former Estepona councilman Ricardo Galeote have been re-indicted on the original charges following the High Court’s ruling.

In September, Madrid regional High Court Judge Antonio Pedreira, who was overseeing the Gürtel public corruption inquiry, decided to drop the case against Bárcenas after ruling, among other things, that the former treasurer had actually tried to protect the PP from the Gürtel corrupt businessmen. Pedreira also ruled that the statute of limitations had run out on some of the crimes he was charged with.

Bárcenas was charged with crimes in connection to money he reportedly received from reputed Gürtel kickbacks-for-contracts ringleader Francisco Correa.

But in its revocation, the High Court said that Pedreira’s decision was “neither urgent nor could it not be postponed,” the two legal requisites needed for a dismissal after deciding he no longer had jurisdiction in the case.

Pedreira recused himself from the Gürtel contracts-for-kickbacks inquiry when three defendants – former Madrid sports director Antonio López Viejo and PP regional deputies Benjamín Martín Vasco and Alfonso Bosch – lost their government positions. After that decision in July, Bárcenas asked that judge for a dismissal and was granted it.

Two days later, Pedreira also decided to drop Merino’s charges.

Anti-corruption prosecutors quickly appealed Pedreira’s decisions, saying he didn’t evaluate all the evidence.

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